Pastoral Care Guidance for Deacons, Stephen Ministers, and the Congregation of River Road Church, Baptist
Assumptions I Make about Relationships with Challenging People
- I am only in control of how I relate to another person.
- I do not/cannot change another person—only set boundaries on what they are allowed to do.
- Persons who choose to can alter/change the way they themselves act/relate.
- I have no choice not to relate to some challenging persons—the only choices I have are when to initiate, how to initiate, and how to respond to them.
- The patterns of responses I find difficult to relate to are partially a function of my emotional history with certain relational dynamics.
- Anxiety and frustration are emotional responses I can learn to exercise some control over (I can become a “less anxious presence”).
- Some persons learned difficult behaviors in order to cope with stress, some out of poor modeling, some out of anxiety, some out of a desire to control (power), some out of pain, some out of self-care.
- Some patterns of responses that are difficult for some people may not be difficult for others (we collect our own).
- Some dysfunctional (unhelpful) ways of relating are systemic and have developed in families for several generations.
- It is neither irresponsible nor inappropriate to choose to avoid some difficult relationships as much as possible.
- Humor, realistic expectations, prayer, and self-talk all contribute to an increased capacity to respond well to the people I find “difficult.”
- Stress and accumulated frustration add to the challenge of responding effectively to strained behavior.
- Some persons are actually very difficult to relate to—period (I cannot relate well to everyone—ask Jesus).